Orioles (officially) hire Hyde as manager; Potential replacements; Cubs rumored in pursuit of Descalso

David Ross

David Ross

I'd like to apologize for not really keeping pace with the articles during the Winter Meetings, but frankly I despise reporting on rumors, and was sort of waiting for concrete news to drop, that unfortunately never did. The Cubs were in "lockdown" mode, pursuing creative avenues to free up cash and roster space in order to improve the club, but so far there hasn't been much in the way of movement.

The good news is, most of the talent they are interested in adding, should they free up the space is still available.

Orioles Hire Brandon Hyde

It was rumored. Then proclaimed. Later officially renounced. But now officially official:

What does this mean for the Cubs? Well, it just means they need to replace another member of Joe Maddon's staff. They've had plenty of practice at doing that, so I'm not worried.

The first name as a potential replacement that pops in everyone's mind is David Ross. He would seemingly be a great choice, but he is also still relatively new to the retirement thing, and was pretty clear he wanted to spend time with his family. He currently has a pretty sweet part-time gig that keeps him involved with the game while still giving him plenty of family time. If he's ready to commit, I imagine it would be an easy "yes" for Maddon and the front office.

Beyond Grandpa Ross, two other names that have floated about are Raul Ibanez and Mark DeRosa. Like Ross, Ibanez was pegged as a future manager back during his playing days, and he has been rumored for positions with the Cubs in the past. DeRo was also highly respected for baseball mind during his playing days, and would certainly be a fan favorite if a reunion is in order.

Cubs and Angels finalize La Stella deal

At the conclusion of the Rule 5 draft yesterday the Cubs and Angels announced the completion of the Tommy La Stella trade and the return the Cubs received was not cash as I originally speculated, but rather left handed reliever Conor Lillis-White. Lillis-White was eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but was not selected. Had he no longer been available, I suspect the Cubs would have had the option of a different player (or financial compensation).

Cubs rumored to be pursuing Daniel Descalso

We speculated that the Cubs would look to replace La Stella with a more versatile defender and the team has apparently identified a target in that pursuit, but they will apparently have to contend with the Cardinals for the services of utility man Daniel Descalso.

My thoughts:

Comments

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  • Best of luck to Brandon Hyde.

  • Descalso career: .240 / .324 / .370
    2018 2nd half: .198 / .331 / .347

    Big old "no thanks" for me. Why get rid of LaStella if you're going to grab Descalso?

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Unless they really like Lillis-White (I think there's some reason to).

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    But they didn't know they would get him when they dumped LaStella..

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    LaStella wasn't "dumped." The Cubs knew which player they would get in return, or at least which players they could choose from, and agreed to a trade.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Tommy doesn't have much of a fastball...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Versatile defender and provided key hits coming off the bench

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    I'll miss Tommy, but it really isn't a great loss, especially if they use the roster slot for someone who can play better defense at more positions. It will be hard to replace his PH success.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Descalso gives you better and more options on defense. Plus he's a great clubhouse influence.

  • In reply to NilesNorth:

    How would you know he is a great clubhouse influence?
    They need talented players and would not be a great addition.

  • I don't think that you need to apologize. You and others are doing a fantastic job. John had us spoiled. I do miss the baseball conversation during slower periods that were filled with Aguello' s insights. I like that many of the knowledgeable Den readers are so willing to contribute what they are thinking as well to stimulating good baseball discussions.

    Descalso would be welcome.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree and appreciate the work of Michael and the rest of the Cubs Den writers. The team has already been "built" except for a few tweaks and it's been a really slow offseason. I understand there isn't a lot to write about, but I appreciate you folks keeping it fresh.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    John did have the distinct advantage of being retired :)

    And for a couple years there we had a half dozen regular contributors and then a few occasionals as well. Now, it's just me, with a few people chipping in when they can. We've scaled back to a bit more like what Cubs Den was in the beginning. The writers who contribute are all unpaid, and this was always meant to be a give what you can and work on your craft sort of gig. John wanted to help writers improve and give their voice an outlet.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Much appreciated even in a scaled back format.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The fact that writers have jobs and families and do this as volunteers and still give so much of their time and energy is pretty amazing. Denizens can't be too thankful for your contributions to our baseball and Cub fandom.

  • Funny, one of my thoughts if we were to dump Russell was that we should sign Daniel Descalso. I even talked that idea up to a couple friends who agreed he's not a bad guy to have as a backup infielder/outfielder. Doesn't have lots of skills with the bat, but I've noticed throughout his career he tends to be a pretty good hitter in big situations.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Descalso was always rough at SS and now hasn't played there at all last year. He is more likely a replacement for one of Zo/Happ/TLS

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Oh yeah, of course. I wasn't trying to imply he'd play SS, Baez would be #1 there. But I see him being a guy who could play some 2b, 3b and LF on occasion to add versatility. And I do think he gives pretty good at bats. I wouldn't want to rely on him as an everyday player.

    With your comment about him replacing on of Zo/Happ/TLS, I can see that for sure. TLS for now. But it wouldn't surprise me if we did move Zobrist to free up money (I'm not really behind the idea of moving Zobrist), and/or also move Happ in a deal where he is included to offset the cost another team is picking up on another player we are moving to cut costs. And while I actually still think Russell will remain a Cub (I'm fairly neutral on his future with the Cubs), Descalso also helps pad that defensive infield situation if Russell is moved or cut before the season starts.

  • Also, I'd love either DeRosa or Ross as the bench coach, although I think either are unlikely at this moment. When I was watching some of the MLB Network coverage of the winter meetings, after the announcement of Brandon Hyde's hiring with the O's, they read someones tweet saying DeRo should be the Cubs bench coach, and DeRosa quickly shot that down saying he likes his job at the MLB Network too much. Of course, if the situation were real and the Cubs contacted him, maybe he'd then seriously consider it, but he didn't seem to be in a rush to get back into the dugout/clubhouse for 7 to 8 months a year.

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    Michael, you can only do what you can do. We understand. I think one of the reasons that there has been so little movement with the Cubs is that this is a pretty complete team as is. If we put the same team out there as last we would be at least a 90 win team (I don't want Chatwood out there though.) Now, I don't think we'll do that. My guess is that Happ or Schwarbs will be traded. For what I don't know, but it's Dec and getting cold outside and this is what we do.
    One week to go and the days start getting longer.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan, OK, I'm going to gloat a bit. When you mention cold, I mention Arizona, where cold is 50 degrees. From my decades in Michigan, it is pretty weird to see 50 degree people bundled up in scarves, gloves and down jackets, while I'm still wearing shorts.

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    In reply to wthomson:

    I'm also amused by the people who think 35 or 40 degrees is too cold to go to a baseball game and yet when it's -5 they'll fill a football stadium!

  • Admittedly I am down over the pace of the off-season. When Theo came out guns a blazin' after our pathetic bow out of the post-season, I was ready for changes to come fast and furious.

    Well, here we sit mid-December and nothing has been done. I know it is early, but I expected something big to happen by now. So the one rumor we get is Descalso? Really? Is this serious? What -- were Cesar Izturis, Rey Sanchez, Ced Landrum, or Sam Fuld not available?

    This ruins the start to my weekend for sure. Hopefully things pick up. I am in favor of changing some of these parts.

  • hmmm,,,, strange move it he's just meant to replace LaStella. He'll cost more. Maybe, he's meant to replace a more expensive utility switch hitter? Really don't need Zobrist and Descalso and Happ.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Yeah, could certainly make sense in the context of moving Zo or Happ. If it ends up being Zo, I think it is because they'll have a big move in mind (like Harper). If it is Happ, it is more likely a method to restructure, and potentially use Happ to fix the bullpen.

  • The only way the LaStella trade/potential Descalso signing makes sense to me is if Russell is going to be traded. Without him, I see the need for a defensive backup. With him (and Javy), I’d rather have LaStella’s bat.

  • Aren't the Cubs kicking the tires on Troy Tulowitzki?

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    I certainly think they should be.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    From what little I've seen he is looking for a chance to play SS again, and also prefers the West Coast.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That’s the word out here. The assumption is he’ll land with the A’s.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    The A's actually makes better sense for him. Guaranteed playing time and the price is perfect for Oakland.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Problem is that Oakland isn't 1 of the 6 teams that reached out to him and his agent.

    I would love the Cubs to invite him to spring training and tell him if he's healthy and shows he can handle SS and hit, that he will either start somewhere ( until he fizzles out, if? or gets hurt )

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    I'd be surprised if they aren't. He's certainly not my first choice, but could be a cheap addition if he's healthy.

  • With Happ, Bote and Zobrist why do they need a Descalso ???

    I wish Hyde best of luck but wish he’d been a little more selective. Hate to see a guy hurt his career by going to a bad team.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Agree on all counts. It sounds like Descalso would be a move just to make a move... Like when they just took over in 2011. We are in let’s win some mode, not let’s have another journeyman mode.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    The front office might have reasons that we are not aware of, or it could be that TLS was pretty one dimensional. Descalso is also a good pinch hitter and plays defense with authority.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Not talking about trading LaStella. I’m talking about acquiring a Descalso. He’s not very good. His postseason #s are awful... He’s not a SS. And the way I see it, he’s not an improvement over any of the IF depth they already have. JMO.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Good teammate, veteran leadership, and plays as good (or likely better) infield defense than Happ, Bote, or Zobrist. He would just be a backup, and especially insurance in case Russell is released.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I didn’t think he plays SS anymore?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He doesn't

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think this is a signal that one of those guys might go in a trade

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree. I could see Happ, JHey, and some $$ to the Giants to get the room to sign Bryce. Assuming the Dodgers don’t ink him first.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I think this is exactly the kind of deal we'll eventually see, maybe with a minor prospect or two thrown in.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Why would the Giants want Heyward's contract?

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    The theory is that the Giants would be willing to take on his salary (with some salary relief) as a way to add young, controllable talent. So one theory is that the Cubs would also throw in Happ and Alzolay, and pay down some of Heyward’s contract. Heyward would also be useful to the Giants because their right field is so huge. Is it possible? Sure. But to me at least it seems like something dreamed up by Cubs fans as a way for the Cubs to free up money and sign Harper.

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    In reply to Cubs09:

    I agree w you, plus doesn't Heyward have to waive his NTC?

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Sure it is possible to trade Heyward, eat part of his salary, also give Happ and Alzolay away so Harper can be signed to a bloated contract. Possible yes, smart no. If anyone has been paying attention to Epstein over the last seven years knows he would never do this.

  • In reply to John57:

    John, I agree it wouldn't be smart.
    But unfortunately the bloated, elongated contracts that were given by Theo - to JHey, Darvish, Chatwood, as well as those he passed out towards the end of his run with the Bosox, show his tendencies.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    As far as I know, none of those contract pushed them into the CBA penalty territory. Another contract to Harper for what Boras wants will. That is the difference. Plus I never saw any of his trades that gave away a Happ(a young talented 1st round pick who is still developing) or Alzolay(our current top SP prospect who projects to be a #3 SP). He build his teams through the draft and IFAs for the most part. Expensive FAs are signed to fill in the holes. He does spend big money when he can as you have pointed out but not when it will hurt the talent pipeline. I would be very surprised if the Cubs sign Harper.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    John57: If I am the Giants, Happ and Alzolay would not be enough for me to take on Heyward's five-year, $106 million contract. And if I am the Cubs, the only reason I would do that trade is to get salary relief. So if the Giants want some money, forget it.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    reply to Cubs09:
    If I am running the Cubs, I am not giving up Heyward, Happ, and Alzolay for some salary relief just to sign Harper to a bloated risky long term contract. You say SF wouldn't do that trade either. I believe you. Guess that trade never happens, which would suit me fine.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    John57: we agree on this much: the trade is a complete Twitter fantasy. I remember last year there was a rumor that the Cubs and Giants were discussing a Heyward for Melanchon trade, and Theo came out and said there was literally zero truth to the rumor. I am also with you on Harper. The only way I could sign him is if he agreed to a three (or four) year deal. That will never happen, so i’m not interested.

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    Nobody "wants" Heyward's contract, not even the Cubs. Deals are made all the time where teams accept "bad" contracts in order to get other players/prospects included in the deal, especially if the other team picks up some of the cost.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    This may be a great opportunity for Hyde - new GM, rebuilding team, low expectations. He gains experience and builds his resume in the high-falutin' AL East, the center of the ESPN universe. If the O's can somehow finish ahead of the Yanks or BoSox, he goes to the top of the managerial class and the offers pour in.

  • Glad somebody doesn't like reporting rumors. Mighty thin gruel lately.

  • Kind of sad that we might not have enough money to sign a bum like Descalso.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    The Cubs are probably thinking, if they are going to be penalized, it will only for Harper only. Not for a bunch of fill in type players for backup or the pen.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Adding Descalso will not change any penalties. Adding Harper will add to the penalties and limit their financial flexibility.

  • In reply to John57:

    How about the accumulation of a middle infielder and the addition of couple decent high end relievers?

  • So, you know what's missing so far that makes me think things are happening out of sight? A Boras rant. He hasn't lambasted the Cubs FO for being cheap. If the Cubs were really being frugal, Boras would let us know. Not that I have even a wild guess of why they might want to be so sly, but something feels off about Theo sitting out the off season.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Maybe Theo learned a lesson from last off season. In a way, the Cubs have already made their bed except around the edges. Change gets much more complicated at this point.

  • Just saw on ESPN the Red Sox penalty for this year's CBT was $12 Million and dropiing 10 slots with their first pick. I do that every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I think too much is made of the CBT. If you plan properly and have money coming off the books each year, it is a manageable process.

    Or you are the Yankees, who just finished under for the first time in 15 years and paid $341 million over that period, and say I could care less about the tax.

    I hope the CBT does not deter Theo/Jed from putting the best team on the field. The playoff games alone in Food and Beverage will pay the tax.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The Red Sox would be fine if they didn't have $30M in dead money to Rusney Castillo and Pablo Sandoval..

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I don’t think any team with a CBT type payroll is free of a couple of bad deals.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Castillo doesn't count Boston's CBT number because he cleared waivers and was reassigned to the minor leagues. It's why he'll never get another MLB chance. If they were to trade him any money they eat WOULD count against it. They're on the hook for his money, but he's not part of their tax hit.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I did not know that. Thanks for letting me (us) know. I was wondering why I did not see his name on the Cot's spread sheet.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I thought that one of the penalties for going over the cap was loss of some IFA money.

  • In reply to DaveAPol:

    You could be right, but that part was not mentioned in the article.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    That was my point. The article, by omission, implies that the penalties are rather mild, but I have heard that the loss of IFA money is probably the most stringent of the penalties for most clubs.

  • In reply to DaveAPol:

    Personally, I could live with that. I really don’t think the CBT is a deterrent with proper planning.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The penalties in the Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly are a deterrent. That is why the owners put them there. The owners want to spend less on players salaries. The players want more money going to player salaries. The owners won the last negotiation of the CBA big time.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    If you buy all the reports the luxury tax is drastically affecting the Cubs off season plans.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    It's affecting everybody and John is right salaries will go down, especially those with numerous years and exorbitant dollars per. I'm ok with it, because organizations will have to concentrate on building teams instead of buying them. It will produce better baseball and more consistency year to year. As teams compete for more fans, the reduced price of tickets should follow.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The problem is that as salaries are going down for all but some of the young, elite players baseball revenues are skyrocketing. You can't have that kind of imbalance with labor and sustain your product. There is almost certain to be a work stoppage with the next CBA negotiations and it's going to be bad. The main problem is that the CBT is starting to function more like a cap and while teams can clearly outspend it based on revenue they're choosing not to. At the same time small and medium market teams have to tank to rebuild and then to only up small windows at a time. From a players standpoint adding a salary floor would help but then you'd have a bunch of teams maybe singing one or two good players and winning 70-80 games a year and mediocrity is far worse than tanking. Also in order to get a floor the MLBPA would have to agree to enacting a true cap and the players won't discuss it. It's a mess with owners making more on the whole and players making less.

    As far as ticket prices going down, that's never going to happen in big markets and lowering ticket prices would only hurt the small market teams. Ticket prices are dictated by supply and demand and the demand in cities like NY, Chicago, SF and LA and even some of the medium markets are never going to go down with their huge corporate base buyers propping up demand. Player salaries barely cause a ripple in ticket pricing.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I see another issue: the new, smart GMs are recognizing that the big FA contracts don't typically work, while the talented younger players are underpaid. Take McCuthen: when he was the best player in the National League he made $500K a year. Now, he is getting three-year, $50m contract, which to me was stupid signing. They need to figure out some way to fix that situation.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I believe players would be wise to add a salary cap and in return raise the minimum salary and shortening team control (get to FA in 4 years perhaps?). Yes, teams will spend less on higher earning players, but it will bring up the median salary as those mid-range FA will bring in money quicker and teams will be likely to spend more money on younger players.

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    I think shortening team control will be the focus of the next CBA negotiations, although I doubt that a salary cap would be received favorably by the MLBPA unless (maybe) expressed as a percentage of team or league revenue.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Good point, Cliff. Having it expressed as a percentage of league revenue would likely be something MLBPA would need for it to even be considered. Regardless, teams are gaining a larger percentage of the pie while players are getting less and less. The two culprits being low min wage and long team control which hinders wage growth for those aged 25-30.

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    Players generally get 50% of the pie

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    The issue there is that agents wouldn't get on board and they are the one, true ally that the MLBPA has. It is a complete mess and it isn't going to be solved in one CBA. Tony Clark has done a lousy job as executive director. I also don't see a cap as solving much. It's impossible to completely level the playing field when you have huge market teams and markets that probably shouldn't have teams at all. Break even for Tampa Bay is said to be $60 mil and in Miami it's $65 mil. Granted your revenues can go up when you win but by how much and at what risk? Say $200 mil was the cap, for instance, the large market teams would still never have to make a decision on what they could afford. The disparity between large market teams and small market teams will exist even if you put a floor in place, and you could argue the floor would hurt small market teams who save up money for years they can compete. If the floor is say $50 mil a team like the Rays couldn't save much for an upcoming window.

  • In reply to TC154:

    According to ESPN MLB attendance report, Miami didn’t even draw 900K let alone a million. Tampa only around 1,155,000. Both probably shouldn’t even have teams.

    The other thing that bugs me is that St. Louis draws 3mil, 400K (200K) more than the Chicago Cubs, yet get a “Small Market” competitive balance pick. Just Doesn’t Add Up for me.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    The confusing part is that the Tampa area is #11 media market while Miami is around #16 according to Nielsen. STL is #21. MLB wants Florida teams to work because there's plenty of revenue potential there.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Revenue potential that’s just not into baseball, apparently. Time to move on. Either subtract the teams or try another untapped market... where? Not sure. Expand the rosters to 27 players to absorb the subtracting teams.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    And StL needed that Competitive Balance pick so badly that they included it in the swap for Goldschmidt.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Ticket prices are going down.
    Salaries are also not going down when revenues are going up.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    ticket prices are not going down

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    In response to players generally getting 50% of the pie, there was some discussion a couple years ago that player salary had dipped to under 40%. The study below is a few years old but I doubt the percentage has climbed as we have seen slow free agency the last couple of winters.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-mlbpa-has-a-problem/

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    I'm kind of surprised no one, to my knowledge has mentioned Sandberg as a potential bench coach.

    No need to apologize Michael. It has been a slow off season and not much to report on anyway. You do a great job.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    I would be on board w/Ryno. But “if” Joe is a lame duck mgr this year, then why would he want to do that? He’d be 1 & done.

  • What does Charles the Cat say these days?

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Hasn't Tweeted since Friday. I dig the cat and think he makes sense.

  • Why did Theo not make any trades or sign any FA's. Lots of
    players have been released

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